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A good death—but no thanks to the NHS

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 08 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:536
  1. Paula Newton (

    A year ago my frail 77 year old father had his renal function checked, on a Friday, by his GP. It was not unreasonable to do such a check, as he had severe cardiac failure, a recurrently infected replacement aortic aneurysm graft, lobectomy for a squamous cell carcinoma (secondary to smoking a pipe since university), and osteoporosis causing severe back pain, to name but a few of his pathologies. Clearly he was living on borrowed time. Despite all this he had enjoyed a weekend away with his wife in the New Forest less than a week before and had a more than reasonable quality of life.

    His greatest fear was hospital admission; after all he had been there more times than he could count already, and as each weekend approached the risk loomed of an out of hours admission from which his own GP's wisdom would be absent. If it was a bank holiday weekend then his anxiety levels rose even higher. As I live 130 km away I suggested that a summary of his complex medical condition, and a written statement of his desire …

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